This one pot French Onion Pasta recipe is perfectly reminiscent of French onion soup – loaded with jammy caramelized onions, with pasta cooked right in the pot in a combination of beef broth and water. Finished with a bit of heavy cream and gruyere cheese, it’s the perfect cozy meal.
Most of these ingredients for French onion pasta are identical to French onion soup, and that’s on purpose, I wanted to mirror that delicious rich flavor! It's a creamy and different way to enjoy all the same flavors you love.
- Pasta: Any short pasta works. I like to use mezze rigatoni (basically shorter rigatoni).
- Onions: 3 large yellow onions. Likely more than you think because as they caramelize they break down quite a bit.
- Butter and olive oil: Unsalted butter to add flavor, and olive oil so the butter doesn’t burn.
- Garlic: A few minced cloves of garlic are added towards the end of caramelizing onions to bring more flavor.
- Thyme: Plenty of fresh thyme balances the decadence of the caramelized onions.
- Dry white wine: Deglazing with a dry white wine adds a bit of acidity that is much needed in this dish.
- Worcestershire sauce: For depth of flavor, this brings a hit of salty umami-ness.
- Soy sauce can work in a pinch if you do not have worcestershire sauce.
- Beef stock: Low sodium beef stock (or beef broth) is ideal so you can control the salt levels. The pasta gets boiled right in the stock so it’s a perfect homage to the classic French onion soup.
- You could also use chicken stock (or chicken broth), but you’ll lose out on some of the classic soup flavors.
- Water: One cup of water in addition to the beef stock.
- Heavy cream: This gets added at the end to make the dish a little creamy.
- Gruyère cheese: Grated gruyere is melted in at the end alongside the heavy cream – another homage to the soup recipe (for the soup usually gruyere is toasted on bread and put on top).
Step by step instructions
- Caramelize the onions
- Add garlic and thyme
- Deglaze with wine
- Add worcestershire, salt, and pepper
- Add broth water and pasta, simmer until pasta is cooked
- Stir in heavy cream and gruyere
1. Caramelize the onions. Heat a large dutch oven or deep large skillet over medium heat. Melt butter with the oil until warmed. Add all the sliced onions. Toss them to coat in the butter and oil. Sauté, stirring rather frequently (every 3ish minutes) for about an hour until they are deep golden brown color and jammy. It’s okay if a little is sticking to the bottom of the pot, but if it is excessive and they are burning, add a little bit more oil or even 1-2 tablespoon water.
2. Add the garlic and thyme. Once the onions are caramelized, add the minced garlic and chopped thyme. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes until very fragrant.
3. Deglaze. Pour the wine in and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon making sure to get up all the brown bits as it simmers and is absorbed / evaporated, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper. Finish the caramelized onions by adding the worcestershire sauce and salt.
5. Add liquid and cook the pasta. Into the same pot, add the beef broth, water, and dry uncooked pasta. Stir to combine and try to get as much pasta submerged as you can. Bring it up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring very frequently, until the pasta is al dente and a good amount of the liquid has evaporated – about 8-10 minutes. There will still be a bit of liquid, it’ll continue to thicken as you add the cheese and cream.
6. Stir in cream and cheese. Remove the pot from the heat and add the heavy cream and shredded gruyere cheese. Mix together until fully incorporated and creamy.
Tips and tricks
One pot pasta recipes are winners all around, but below notes can provide a bit more detail.
- The best way to cut onions for caramelizing them:
- Cut off the stem and root
- Cut in half top to bottom (in the direction of stem to root)
- Peel off the outer layer
- Place the onion flat side down (the center cut)
- Cut thin slices against the grain
- Against the grain in this case is left to right following the arch of the onion (so not where was already exposed after you’ve cut in half)
- Deglazing with white wine is optional, but the added acidity is a must. If you are alcohol-free (although it cooks off) you could do a small splash of apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar instead.
- Really spend the time to let the onions caramelize; their flavor deepens and gets deliciously sweet the longer they cook.
- Once you’ve added the pasta, stir very often otherwise it’ll stick to the bottom.
- I don’t think this will happen, but if the liquid gets too low as you cook the pasta, just add more stock or water! The water will evaporate and absorb into the pasta so it will get less and less, but if you really need more, just add a little bit at a time.
- Shred your own cheese to avoid any additives that prevent it from melting to the fullest extent of its creaminess.
- You can cook the caramelized onions in advance – follow the first 4 steps (through adding the worcestershire salt and pepper). Then let the mixture cool and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to finish the dish, add the mixture to the pot with the beef stock, water, and pasta and continue as instructed. If you do this, the recipe should really only take 15 minutes.
- Since caramelizing onions is no quick task, you can make a bigger batch and save some to use in recipes like caramelized onion and bacon pizza, and caramelized onion and apple grilled cheese.
- Make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock (or vegetable broth).
- Make it gluten free by using your favorite gluten free pasta.
- If you want to add meat I’d recommend serving with some crispy chicken cutlets.
- Adding sliced mushrooms when you add the garlic is a great vegetable addition.
- Give it a bit of heat by adding some red pepper flakes when you add the garlic.
What to serve with French Onion Pasta
- Garlic bread, always
- Crispy chicken cutlets (as mentioned above!)
- A simple green salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil
- Hearty meatballs
Storage and reheating
This French onion soup pasta is quite delicious reheated, so definitely save any leftovers (if you even have any).
- Storage: Let the pasta cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezing: Let the pasta cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Warm in the microwave for a few minutes or on the stovetop on low heat. If it needs to be loosened up a bit, add a splash of beef stock or water.
Lower the heat a bit and add a splash of water.
Caramelizing onions definitely take time, so patience is key. They will go from translucent, to golden, to totally caramelized. When they are fully caramelized, they will be jammy and super soft, and a deep amber color. It really takes an hour.
Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are great options.
You can, but don’t double the stock to begin with. Just 1.5x to start and add more as needed.
More pasta recipes
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One Pot French Onion Pasta
- 12 oz uncooked mezze rigatoni (or other short pasta)
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 large yellow onion sliced ¼" thin
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups low sodium beef stock
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup gruyere cheese grated
- Heat a large dutch oven or deep large skillet over medium heat. Melt butter with the oil until warmed. Add all the sliced onions. Toss them to coat in the butter and oil. Sauté, stirring rather frequently (every 3ish minutes) for about an hour until they are deep golden brown color and jammy. It’s okay if a little is sticking to the bottom of the pot, but if it is excessive and they are burning, add a little bit more oil or even 1-2 tablespoon water.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add the minced garlic and chopped thyme. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes until very fragrant.
- Pour the wine in and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon making sure to get up all the brown bits as it simmers and is absorbed / evaporated, about 1-2 minutes.
- Finish the caramelized onions by adding the worcestershire and salt.
- Into the same pot, add the beef broth, water, and dry uncooked pasta. Stir to combine and try to get as much pasta submerged as you can. Bring it up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring very frequently, until the pasta is al dente and a good amount of the liquid has evaporated – about 8-10 minutes. There will still be a bit of liquid, it’ll continue to thicken as you add the cheese and cream.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the heavy cream and shredded gruyere cheese. Mix together until fully incorporated and creamy.
Can I use beef in this??
Yes that should work - not sure which kind you're thinking (eg ground, shredded, etc) but I'd cook it first, remove it and set it aside, then caramelize the onions and continue with the recipe, then add the beef back in at the end.
I would add chicken for the protein
Glad you liked it, and definitely can add chicken!
Tried this tonight and even my very picky 5 year old loved it!! Sooo good
Yay!!So happy to hear that
This was a really yummy recipe!! My husband and i loved it!! He never eates 2nds but he did for this!!! I've made a few of ur recipes and they never disappoint! I appreciate you!
omg yay!! so happy to hear that 🙂
hey! will definitely be making this :] i just came across this today and i LOVE the set up of your website?? :)) it’s so convenient !!!
Yay! thanks so much!
Are you able to use Marsala wine instead of white wine to deglaze?